Bwindi is located in the southwestern part of Uganda at the edge of the rift valley bordering DRC to the west in the districts of Kibale and Kanungu. It covers an area of 321 sq km and was gazzetted as a national park in 1991 and later named a UNESCO world heritage site in 1994 because Bwindi was/is home to half of the world’s endangered mountain gorilla population.
Bwindi protects an estimated 340 gorilla groups which is roughly half of the world’s population. Mubare group was the first available for tourism in 1993 and more than nine groups are available now.
It consists of about 120 mammals species, primate species such as baboons, chimps etc., around 350 bird species including 23 Albrtine rift endemics, 45 small mammal species, species of butterflies, frogs, chameleons, geckos and others.
It has a rugged topography with narrow valleys intersected by rivers and steep mist hills covered by one of Uganda’s oldest and biological rainforests with about 400 plant species.
It’s also a source of five rivers that feed Lake Edward with an altitude that ranges from 1160m-2607m above sea level with the highest peak being Rwamunyonyi in the East and the lowwer peak in the north.
In 1932 two blocks of Bwindi impenetrable forests were designed as crown forest reserves, the northern block being kayonza and the south block kasatora crown forest reseves which covered an area of 207km.
Furthermore in 1942 the two crown reserves were combined, enlarged and renamed impenetrable central crown forest with an area of 289km .This was under the control of Uganda government and forest department.
Then in 1964, it was made an animal sanctuary to protect mountain gorillas and i n 1996 two forests where added to the reserve increasing its area to 321km and was both managed as a game reserve and animal sanctuary.
Gorilla tracking started in 1993.
What activities to do?
- Gorrilla tracking is the major activity and the park shelters 340 gorrillas commonly known as Bwindi population. The rest are in the Virunga mountains shared by Rwanda. Major threats are poaching, habitat loss and diseases.
- Birding to see various birds which includes blue headed sunbird, short tailed warbler,bee eaters, turaco etc.
- Cycling through the mountains, hiking and nature walks to explore the forest, visit waterfalls etc.
- Cultural heritage trails to the Bakiga and Batwa people.
Bwindi is about 530km from Kampala can be accessed through the kampala Mbarara road (6-8hrs), from Kibale town about 1-2hrs or via Queen Elizabeth 2-3hrs drive.
You can also access the park from Rwanda which is a shorter drive.
Flights can be arranged from Entebbe to kisoro.
Accomodation can be found in the neighbouring towns of Buhoma , Nkuringo, rushaga, ruhiga and much more ranging from lodges, campsites etc.